The Burning of Tairos is recorded as being the singular most destructive event on the planet’s surface. While the bulk of the surviving records from that time describe it and the motivations leading up to it, I found this one to be the most intriguing. It is the only one to actually paint the clearest picture of the weapon unleashed during the event itself.
I believe now I have an idea of what to look for.
-Inquisitor Malacin Grieg
+++ IMPERIUM RECORD F6-CLX-9823-DELTA +++
+++ RELEASED UPON AUTHORITY OF INQUISITOR MALACIN GRIEG +++
+++ SUBJECT: BURNING OF TAIROS +++
+++ TRANSCRIPT FROM AUDIO RECORD +++
+++ FROM ADMINISTRATUM OFFICER ‘ALTO’ 009.M31 +++
The day that hell came upon us is one I will never forget. It was not the hell of an enemy’s hatred heaped upon us, nor was it the hell of simple warfare. This was a hell borne from the fires of the stars—the fire of one star. One sun. It was not a fire of judgement—not a thing that would test our mettle. It was the fire of decision—a thing that was meant to scour everything it touched. There was to be no survival.
I survived. By the Emperor’s Light, I survived. But, then, maybe I did not. My augmented eyes and limbs have replaced my flesh ones. My skin, seared away by the blast, is now a synthetic regrowth. It, too, is not my own. And what of my mind? A mind fragmented by the vision of a sun’s fury pouring across a million lives cannot be the same mind as before, can it?
Am I the same? Did I survive?
Before the Burning, negotiations in City Kalnar, at the heart of Tairos’s administrative district, had been going poorly. The nobility was adamant about their stance in support of the Arch-traitor, and I was attempting to get them to see the Emperor’s truth. I was failing. The traitors had gotten too deep into the Tairosian nobility, and I was pushing their tolerance. I could see it in their eyes: if I continued to try, they would kill me and return my body as a message to others.
Knowing this, but believing in the Emperor’s protection, I heaped upon them my scorn and cursed their lives with the wrath of the Emperor. I spat righteous fury at their heretical hearts and threatened to call down the Light of the Emperor himself if they continued to defy Him. How little did I know how much light He would deliver…
Little did I know that the Mechanicum had long ago reached whatever pre-established tolerance they had calculated for themselves, and the traitor forces on Tairos had pushed beyond that threshold. Some would call it a coincidence that my words left my lips at the same time that the war engine of the machine god—the Ordinatus Icarus—was awakened. Do you believe in coincidences?
The engine was a glorious sight to behold. I saw it front the windows behind the governor. As I spat my bile at them, the harsh shadow of the thing rested itself across the city and its structures. I may not believe in the tech priests’ strange machine-god religion, but even I could understand the brutal divinity of such a weapon. In fact, who but a foolish deity could even hope to try and cage a star?
The treaded monstrosity looked as if someone had linked two massive armored tanks. The rear of the two cars was designed to bear a miniature sun on its back. The blazing orb of blinding power nestled in a cradle of heat-resistant material, and the cradle looked as if it were merely a vessel for a mammoth funnel-type structure above it. The forward car mounted a massive barrel; a directed nozzle through which the flaming death from the sun could be unleashed.
<subject emits a nervous laughter>
I guess they felt it would have been too inhumane to just unleash the star’s fury in every direction at once? They designed it to have a specific facing. Someone believed it necessary to point it at the enemy, as if it were some great mercy to restrain a sun’s anger to a single direction.
Sorry, but the thought of some tech priest being worried about inhumanity. That’s… that’s amusing to me, is all. If they were worried about that, should they not have even built such a thing?
<speaker clears his throat and then pauses before resuming>
I was blinded when the machine was activated for the first time on Tairos. City Kalnar, I learned later, was the first target of the Burning. It stood where the beginning of the scar stands now.
I was looking at the weapon with a mixture of fear and awe when I saw the iris of the barrel open. To say that the image is burned into my memory would be an ill-suited joke—but it would not be incorrect. I still remember the spiral eye opening and the endless flame that lived within. The heat was palpable, even though the machine was at the edge of the city.
I survived to give this statement only because the building I was in had been reinforced against orbital bombardment. It merely collapsed atop me instead of vaporizing the instant the energy of the Ordinatus Icarus had been released. When we fall unconscious, we often speak of darkness. We see the blackness of near-death before our mind shuts down. I did not see darkness. As I crossed the border from awareness to lack of consciousness, I saw—and I felt—only fire.
I learned later that the Ordinatus Icarus moved on once the blast had incinerated the City Kalnar. Coralia was next. Then Jutuun. It did not stop until it reached the capital.
The clouds of debris from each city hugged the Ordinatus engine like a super-heated miasma, forming what would be called the ashwall. It was that ashwall that shrouded the Ordinatus Icarus for the rest of its holy crusade across Tairos, and it was why I was one of the few to actually see the machine with my own eyes. It took those eyes from me as payment—and as reminder of its endless hunger once awakened.
The scar that has been carved into the world is one that is likely to remain for millennia to come. Let it serve as the monument it was meant to be.
+++ END AUDIO RECORD +++
+++ END TRANSCRIPT +++